Dozens dead, over 200 injured after magnitude-8.1 earthquake rocks Mexico

Posted on: September 8th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(MEXICO CITY) — Dozens were killed after a magnitude-8.1 earthquake rocked Mexico late Thursday night, leveling buildings in southern Mexico, triggering tsunami warnings in several countries and causing people to flee into the street, buildings to sway and lights to go out in Mexico City, some 650 miles from the quake’s epicenter.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who said the quake was 8.2 in magnitude, called it the strongest the country has seen in a century. The U.S. Geological Survey measured it at 8.1 magnitude.

Pena Nieto said in a series of tweets on Friday that over 200 people had been injured and that over 260 aftershocks had hit the country since the initial quake, the most powerful of which was measured at magnitude 6.1.

Over 1.85 million electricity customers had been affected, Pena Nieto said, with nearly 200,000 still facing outages.

The powerful temblor occurred some 50 miles southwest of Pijijiapan, Mexico, off the coast of the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, at 11:49 p.m. local time (12:49 a.m. ET), according to the USGS. The depth of the earthquake was 43 miles, the USGS said.

The small town of Juchitan in Oaxaca state “was completely leveled,” Eduardo Mendoza, senior program manager for Direct Relief, told ABC News from his Mexico City office.

Direct Relief is a California-based nonprofit that since 1948 has supplied medicine to poverty or emergency-stricken regions.

The quake has “affected such a wide region” that officials are still struggling to mobilize their staff, Mendoza said.

He said that many Mexicans could be in need of water after public utilities were damaged and that many in the affected area live in vulnerable adobe cinder block homes, including some who have “chronic illnesses.”

“Many of them are running out of their homes or it collapses and they can’t get their medicine that they need,” he said. “There’s a lot of diabetics.”

As responders scramble to tend to the traumatized victims who still may be trapped under the rubble, they are also dealing with heavy rain. “Rain has been an issue,” Mendoza said. “Not only are we facing the massive earthquake but Hurricane Katia is hitting tonight or tomorrow.

“You’re going to have mudslides and different debris flows; it could affect so many people.”

Local officials in Juchitan told Mexican daily El Universal that at least 50 homes had been destroyed and that at least 17 fatalities so far took place there.

The Mexico City fire department told ABC News early Friday that there were no casualties locally.

Mexico’s Pacific coastal areas — as well as the coastlines of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica — experienced some tsunami waves, with some over 3 feet off the coast of Salina Cruz.

Officials in the devastated town of Juchitan called for more assistance in the quake’s aftermath.

“We need as much help as possible,” a local government official told the magazine Proceso. “We need anyone who can help to do so. We have ambulances here but they’re not enough.” The official added that four people were trapped after a roof collapsed on them.

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